Iowa Takes Checkered Flag, Bulls Feeling The Heat, Chill Out

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As they have since they opened the place, the folks at the Iowa Speedway and the fans hit a homerun at the John Deere Dealers 250.

Little surprised to see attendance dip a bit.  At just under 38,000 they still had a sellout, but it’s well below the 55 and 56 thousand crowds of the past two years.  Guessing knowing another event is still left coupled with many of the Sprint Cup drivers taking this one off cut into it.

You wonder if there is, privately, any disappointment over the fact Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took the checkered flag.   I think even Stenhouse thought Carl Edwards was going to win, and it certainly would have been the better story considering Edwards signature celebration and the fact he went out of his way to race here just hours after winning the All-Star race on Saturday night.  But Stenhouse, who won his first race in 51 starts, was game to take one of the top Sprint Cup drivers down.

This was actually my first time at a NASCAR event.  I’ve never been much of a fan in the past save watching a big race or two (Daytona 500).  But I will say that actually going to the race and watching is a fantastic experience and much more entertaining than watching on TV.  Not to mention fans got a college football tailgating type experience before and after.

I think it is a matter of time before Iowa gets a Sprint Cup event.  Could be awhile, could be soon.  I’m not an expert on how you get the races, but obviously for Iowa to get one someone else would probably have to lose one.  Size of the track may also be an issue.  Either way, in a sport that has seen popularity wane, the Iowa Speedway is a draw they will do well at in any time.  I think the key is that, in addition to Iowa, it’s a draw for racing fans in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Nebraska who don’t have any NASCAR outlets.  A Sprint Cup event would bring people from all over the Midwest.  And I think, after talking with Rusty Wallace and track officials leading up to this racing season, there is a quiet confidence in Newton that it will happen.

The biggest problem the Bulls have right now is that Miami’s Big Two of Dwayne Wade and LeBron James has become the Big Three it was (allegedly) supposed to be.  Chris Bosh was good in game one and dynamite in game three.  The Heat are tough enough with two superstars and probably impossible for the Bulls if Bosh isn’t just a third wheel.  If the Bulls don’t win game four I think you can kiss them goodbye.

A suspect is in custody in the case of the Giants fan who was beaten to near death at a Dodgers game earlier this season, and hopefully arrests are imminent.  I hope that these lowlife scumbags lived every day since their crime in fear of being caught and felt the walls closing in on them.

I spent most of the past week at the Blue Oval for State Track.  Lot of great performances and a lot of great fans.  35,000 came to Drake Stadium over the course of the weekend and were there, rain (and we saw plenty on Friday) or shine.  With the Drake Relays and, this year, the NCAA Championships we see plenty of track here in Des Moines, but seeing the joy and celebration of kids who win is as good as it gets.
Most of the staff at the stadium and on the ground was awesome and did a fantastic job.  But a chill out shout out to a few people who denied me access on Thursday because there was a mixup and they couldn’t find my press pass (thanks to the folks at the main gate that did let me in who saw my painted news vehicle, Channel 13 polo, and the multi-thousand dollar camera, and had a grip on reality) and on Friday who scolded me for using the only microwave in the press box and interrupting a “busy work area” (at the time the stadium was completely empty because we were in a rain delay).  Seriously guys, a high school track meet is not the Olympics, I am not a terrorist, and you are not Seal Team 6.